What are the best ways to work with Teak? In our fourth blog we dive into working with teak, focusing on cutting, planing, gluing and sanding. 

Teak varies in colour according to origin, so try to buy all the boards you need from the same source, so you can get a uniform look – especially if you need to join multiple boards together into a panel.  We source our wood from 2 main plantations, so you will see similar patterns in each piece you use.  

Working with teak.  Teak will dull blades more quickly than many other woods, so it’s best to use carbide tipped blades if you are going to mill in volumes over 100 board feet.  This dulling of the blades is NOT because teak is a hardwood, but because of a combination of the preservative natural teak oil and high silica content that gives quality teak its reputation for durability.  

It is easy to plane and joint, and it slides easily due to it’s oily feel.  It rips and crosscuts easier than oak, and is fine in a router but again, will dull the bits over time.  When drilling holes in the wood, use a high speed bit to ensure a clean hole.  You can carve it easily with sharp chisels and a mallet.  It’s fabulous for dovetailing because it doesn’t crush.  Properly milled and dried, teak is not prone to splitting or checking.

When you start sanding, you will need to stop periodically to clear the dust away, which is slightly tacky due to the oils in the fibres, so you might want a stiff brush handy. Otherwise teak sands to a beautiful, slightly shiny finish with a fine grit.  The natural oils help to polish the surface.  Some people are sensitive to teak dust, so if you have allergy sensitivities, you may want to use a simple cloth breathing mask when sanding.  

For gluing, Epoxy works best for large areas and for smaller areas two excellent choices are Tightbond 2 or 3 and Gorilla Glue.   All these products are easily purchased in any major hardware or woodworking store.  If the wood has been freshly cut and is clean, then direct application of the glue is fine.  If the surface feels oily or has been oiled in the past scrub all areas to be joined with acetone and let it dry.